Welcome to Marauder Moments - a chronicle of the Mortimer Street Marauders; the games we play, the rules we use, the figures we play with and the scenery they fight over. Hope you enjoy these pages and maybe call back to catch up with our escapades.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Spinchetti - Italy 1809

Continuing our season of 20/20 games we have this encounter played this week. There have been two other 20/20 games which will follow at sometime. Spinchetti comes first because it follows a narrative started with the Battle of Facile in the last post.

To recap; Nordmann has led the Austrian Advance Guard into the Tyrol in Spring 1809. Eugene rushed to reinforce the local garrisons and made a reasonable fist of stopping them - it didn't work out and Nordmann pushed him aside.

French Guard Horse Artillery never fail to impress - pure girl bait!
Front Rank models painted by Tony Laughton for Rich who based them,
Nordmann next split his force in two sending them south of Facile along each side of the River. French and Italian garrisons fell back before him. The French had to form a new defensive line and stop the invasion before it escalated - this meant putting together a viable army and giving battle.  

Front Rank caisson moves to resupply one the many French batteries mustered against the Austrians.
Possibly painted in Hong Kong, based by Rich. 
The position chosen was the escarpment and high ground near the village of Spinchetti. The blocking force sat across the Austrian route of march and controlled a vital interlinking bridge at Vezzapo. Nordmann rushed his smaller force, which had pulled ahead, back to cross the bridge to join him in the assault on the Spinchetti heights. The French had seen this coming and forced marched a heavy cavalry brigade with supporting infantry and artillery to intercept this reunion.    

Austrian Landwehr Chasseurs taking it from the Old Guard 12lb battery.
Victrix toys painted by Barry Hill, GMB flags based by Chris and I for  his collection. 
We now had a game with scattered forces trying to concentrate in the face of the enemy, both sides rushing for objectives and knocking seven shades out of each other at the same time. Sounds pretty classic to me, lets go kill some toys!

My Landwehr deploy in line cover the columns - literally cannon fodder. Tony considers how to take down my Infantry brigade with his heavy cavalry while his infantry cross the bridge to engage the Austrian centre.
Perry Miniatures battery painted by Barry Hill for Rich who based them. 

In keeping with our 20/20 theme Rich and Chris chose their forces. Chris ran with the same Advance Guard list he used last time, in fact he down graded some Line units to 2nd Class and a few Landwehr to Conscript grade. We discussed upgrading the Hessen Homburg Hussars to Veterans after their extraordinary performance at the Battle of Facile as well but didn't. These decisions were to have consequences at Spinchetti as Rich's army was of rather better quality. Here is the French army at Spinchetti;-        

General Clouseau                           

Brigade Dreyfus
1/105th Ligne 36 Line                      
2/105th Ligne 36 2nd                         
2/17th Ligne 36 Line                        
Foot artillery battery

Brigade François
1/28th Ligne 36 Veteran                               
2/28th Ligne 36 Line                        
Legere 36 Elite                       
Foot artillery battery

Brigade Litton
1/1st Old Guard Grenadier 32
2/1st  Old Guard Grenadier 32
2/1st Old Guard Chasseur   32 Elite                      
1/3rd Old Guard Chasseur   32 Elite                      
Foot artillery battery 6 x12lb                   

Brigade Balls     
Cuirassier Elite 24
24th Dragoons Line 24
15th Dragoons Line 24

Brigade Panthère
3rd Chasseur Guard / Superior mounts 24
4th Chasseur Line 24
7th Lancers Line 18
Horse Artillery battery 3 x 6lb

Nasty nasty! This could almost have been designed to knock down big battalions on a battlefield well known to the generals...

 "Chest out chin up!" Austrian Dragoons line up to face the French light cavalry.
Elite Miniatures painted by Tony Laughton, GMB flag, bases/gardening by Chris.  
Like a fool I didn't take any pictures of the table before deployment however there are plenty of shots here showing the table in full. The French right rested on the town of Spinchetti at one end of the table, I shall outline the local economic factors later. moving left we find the Spinchetti Heights upon which the French main defence is based. Rich put his light cavalry in the open ground near Spinchetti, a brigade of line is next up on the hill with a battery, then some Old Guard, oh joy, then a 6 gun 12lb foot battery facing left across the river. Across the river on the extreme French left was an Austrian deployment zone, here my brigade was marching to meet up with the main Austrian force facing the French centre and right. Opposite my deployment zone was Tony with the French heavy cavalry brigade and more infantry. From here he could interrupt my advance and threaten the flank of Chris's main Austrian thrust against the heights. Chris based his right on the bridge, set up his infantry to assault the heights and put down his cavalry opposite the French light horse. Chris kept a reserve of three battalions of Grenadiers and one regiment of Cuirassiers.    

Stuck in the mud! Time to roll your sleeves up and get this thing shifted.
Front Rank French limber team with sweaty Perry crew. Painted by Barry Hill for Rich.    
Chris and I had a few moments to confer before we began. Basically given the imbalance in troop quality and the gunlines facing us we may get a proper kicking - so be it. We resolved to take it with a smiling good grace with not a whinge in sight.

"My Beautiful daughters." Old Guard foot artillery seal off the French flank from any threat what so ever. These impressive 12lb guns bombarded my poor brigade all night breaking one battalion and destroying my only battery.
Perry Miniatures painted by Barry Hill for Rich. Note the vignettes of various officers chatting in the sunshine. 
My deployment zone was covered by hostile artillery on the Spinchetti Heights - BFGs. I would have to cross the stream to my front and advance in the face of heavy cavalry, all the while taking fire from above. I cynically put two battalions of Landwehr in line facing the OG foot guns, these took the fire protecting the main attack - cannon fodder - nothing more. Rich did get some bounce hits on the battery behind them though.  

Command stand featuring Victrix French officers. These look like 15mm  models for some reason - possibly the proportiona and very simple paint job. 
Turn one saw the Austrians erupt into action and surge forward on all fronts, only the reserve sat stoically at the rear awaiting orders. The French cavalry advanced on both wings, their infantry dithered and the artillery started a long term bombardment of the boys in white.

Not all of Rich's army was Old Guard! Lowly line troops by Victrix, brush work by Barry Hill, based by Rich.  
Early on both wings saw action. A massive light cavalry melee see-sawed all night with both sides feeding more and more regiments into the maelstrom. This is always unpredictable with regiments charging, falling back, pursuing and rallying. All the while more casualties mounted.

Austrian 48 man line regiment plodding off to attack the French heavy cavalry... 
The far end saw French heavy cavalry charge my plodding masses, each was stopped in turn by defensive fire - mercifully.

Splendid fellow urging his Lancers to charge, horse guns give supporting fire.
Elite Miniatures General, Front Rank Lancers and battery. All by Tony Laughton for Rich. 
In the centre Chris's massed columes crept forward as Rich moved a few people forward to the crest of the escarpment. Tony moved an infantry brigade towards the bridge and fords in order to attack the flank of Chris's position.

More of that battery. Very pretty. Spinchetti looks enticing in the back ground. 
Eventually one of Tony's cavalry regiments drove into my infantry. His dragoons threw themselves onto the front of my 2nd class colume sabres ready, the dice were thrown, factors counted and recounted, a lucky draw saved me! This left me unformed but the cavalry were pushed back so cleared off to reform miles to the rear. Saved for now!

Austrian Line and Landwehr form a massive attack colume. This is part of my brigade crossing the stream at the ford.
Victrix kit with GMB flags. Barry Hill paint job, Chris & JJ basing.   

More Austrian line infantry. I can't decide if  I prefer Austrian line in helmet or shako; love the pompom with oak leaves.
Usual credits, Victrix toys, GMB flags, Barry Hill painting, based by us.    

Hungarian Line infantry. Chris replaced the flimsy plastic flag poles with steel pikes - lethal to soft hands!  I like the contrasting blue and yellow on these. Usual suspects based and painted these. 

Very early in the game the opposing cavalry simply ran at each other. This confused fighting eventually involved about 150 cavalry models. In the background Chris moves his Austrian centre to assault Rich's French.   

Neat and tidy lines about to erupt into violence!
Mostly Perry plastic French lights by Barry Hill, Front Rank Lancers.
Foundry Austrian Hussars, Elite Dragoons.    
The light cavalry battle was cracking on with both sides losing entire regiments. The dreaded Hessen Homburg Hussars went down to the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Guard. The Austrian dragoons gave some others a good hiding too. If one side could get a real win and break the others brigade he could effect the infantry slog in the central sector.

Same scene from behind Spinchetti. Austrian infantry top left attacking the central heights. 

Nothing more to say about this scene really.

Reiss's Brigade under my command. The main thrust is across the stream covered by a Prussian battery.
Landwehr lined out on the right forming a human shield from the Old Guard foot battery off screen right.
Tony'S French heavy cavalry brigade sent to attack me are in for a rough night!
French infantry cross the bridge and ford to attack the Austrian centre. A foot battery fires in support.   

The Austrian centre attacks the French position. Grenadiers and Cuirassiers wait at the rear in reserve.
Landwehr tease the horse battery.

The cavalry clash. This was a messy affair where Rich and Chris got the rules and sequence wrong; we only realized to late to redo it. The Hessen Homburg Hussars were routed! Note the Austrian Cuirassiers moving up to support the light cavalry who are getting a kicking.      

The Austrian centre rumbles forward. Yes those are French Old Guard on the right end of the heights and another battery in the middle! Chris's line battalions lead the attack, his Grenadiers are in support but moving over to the attack as well. Note Russian generals proxying for Austrian high command until they are painted.  
Chris's attack was getting up a head of steam and approaching the dead ground at the foot of the escarpment. This offered a blessed respite from incoming fire. Although one unit turned back in fright the Grenadier reserves stepped up to fill the gaps.  

The Austrian right. We had some artillery too - here the 12lb battery takes chunks out of the Old Guard battalions on the crest of the hill. Landwehr form line to shoot up the French crossing the bridge. My Austrian brigade is in the top right crossing the stream with Tony's French troops between me and Chris. The dreaded Old Guard foot battery is shooting down on me from the escarpment, top centre.    
Tony's French reached the bridge and fords. Chris arranged a reception committee comprising our own heavy artillery and a line of muskets. Tony's attacks on the Austrian infantry eventually failed to cause any real damage but they kept my entire brigade pinned & under fire from the wretched Guard artillery.

Austrian 12lb foot battery from my collection.
Elite Miniatures painted by Pete Morbey of Elite Miniatures. Based by me.

The Hessen Homburg Hussars about to rout from what turned out to be Old Guard light cavalry on superior mounts.
Bit naughty really but hey. 

Back to the Austrian right again. The streets of Vezzapo are deserted.
Tony's French cross the bridge and ford while his heavy cavalry approach my Austrian foot on the horizon.

Tony's view of the battle. Charging massed formed Austrians frontally is tough even for heavy cavalry. The lone rider is an ADC Rich sent to relieve Tony of his command. Yes really.
Note the two Landwehr battalions in line on the far hill sacrificing themselves to the Guard 12lb battery.  

The same scene from my side. The melee was drawn resulting in the French dragoons being pushed back and rallying. That was close! Essentials like the rule book and beer are kept handy at Marauder HQ.  
So just what happens in a town called Spinchetti? Well the answer is simple - cheese. The ground here is pretty dry and the soil infertile and dusty. Only the local goats seem to thrive on the tough grass and weeds which grow on the plains and heights. These goats are milked and the watery produce turned into cheese. Spinchetti goats cheese is not well known and attempts to break it onto the world markets like Parmesan for example, have to date failed. The reason is simple, their cheese is simply ghastly.

It tastes rather like ammonia yet is also sickeningly sweet. It also sticks to the inside of ones mouth and starts to harden into a paste which must be scraped off before it sets. Drinking any fluid only accelerates the problem.

Actually swallowing this cheese is not advised under any circumstances. It may never come out and if it ever does can be excruciating to pass.

Vezzapo has a quayside much like Facile. I liked it so much that when I reset the table I kept it on.
It's just so damn cute. 
Above is the quayside quarter at Vazzapo. Wine from Sacile upstream passes through, tolls raised here generate most of the towns income as no one buys the cheese. One enterprising local has hit upon mixing the finely grated Spinchetti cheese with water to create a paste which sets so hard it cannot be easily pierced and is entirely waterproof. The inventor, a dispossessed noble called Don Crete, plans to market his new product to the building trade, all he needs is a catchy brand name.    

Behind the French centre we can see the approaching Austrian masses. Rich actually felt more than a little bit daunted despite having Guard units, many cannons and a stationary uphill position.  
Back to the grim business of war.

Chris was making headway with his assault, he had knocked the French line brigade back and even bloodied the collective noses of the Old Guard. His lead battalions were up on the Spinchetti heights and he had prevented the flanking force from disrupting his position. Tony and I were basically blown out - his cavalry were thrown back and yet my infantry couldn't really advance toward the bridge or ford for fear of attacks by these very same cavalry once I presented my flank or rear.

Despite dealing me some severe long range casualties I have say this Old Guard foot battery looks brilliant. I think they are Perry metals painted by Barry Hill. This is a good example of Rich's basing technique really bringing out the best in models to create a lively little scene. They even have their own commander, nice touch.

The Austrian dragoons survived the first round of the giant cavalry battle and get ready for round two.
Elite Miniatures painted by Tony Laughton for me, based by Chris. 

The Austrian Curassiers entered the fray as it looked like the Austrian light horse were knackered and about to be overwhelmed. This commitment stabilized the Austrian left opposite Spinchetti and nullified any local superiority the French may have gained.

Phase two of the cavalry engagement - the Lancers face off with the dragoons.  The horse battery has pissed off, both sides have lost a regiment.  

The Austrian central attack goes in despite one regiment calling it a day! Nevermind the Grenadiers step forward in their place. Someone will need to pop back to rally them.
Whilst Rich's centre was reeling from the Austrian assault it sadly couldn't be properly exploited as the attack had run out of steam. The decision was made to break off the attack and leave the French to enjoy Spinchetti and its cheese.

French chasseurs a cheval from Rich's collection. These are of course plastic dragoons with shakos and colpaks; I think this works pretty darn well personally. Painted by Barry Hill for Rich who stuck most of his garden to the bases! 

More French lights demonstrating near Spinchetti. Once again these are converted Perry plastic dragoons.
The excellent stone wall is Games Workshop - I cannot recommend their wall & fence set enough.  

Austrian Cuirassiers at rest 1. This is "old school shiny" and bloody lovely.
Elite Miniatures painted by Tony Laughton. Floristry by Chris. 

Close up of those Chasseurs a Cheval prancing around near Spinchetti. 

Rich demonstrates "Ye Olde Englishe Two Fingered Greeting".

One of the battalions from my brigade. Continuing the Austrian headgear discussion - these are in helmets, now most crested helmets have a black crest, Bavarians, Wurtemburgers, French lancers, early Russian Cuirassiers and others, thing is these are yellow with a black stripe. Yellow is a pensive warm colour, daffodils are yellow, vanilla ice cream is yellow, lager is yellow too! Best of all when you look at most Napoleonic units you see the flat top of a black hat sometimes with a colourful pompom or plume if you're lucky, with these fellows you get yellow - much better to look at!     

French chasseurs a cheval in profile. Plastic Perry's converted by Rich. 

Austrian Cuirassiers at rest 2. This is "old school shiny" and bloody lovely.
Elite Miniatures painted by Tony Laughton. Floristry by Chris. 

I think there's something in my ear Sarge.

French Dragoons from Tony's heavy cavalry brigade. Although numerous and scary this fornation never really threatened my infantry. However it pinned my six huge battalions and a battery in place while the Old Guard battery took pot shots at them all night - wankers.
Perry plastic dragoons painted by Barry Hill for Rich who based them, bit sloppy there Rich.

Nice shot of an Austrian howitzer firing in support of these Austrian Grenadiers.
Gun and crew painted by Pete Morbey of Elite Miniatures. Victrix Austrians by Barry Hill, GMB flag, based by fairies...   

More of the same 12lb foot battery. These are BIG gun models from Elite Miniatures.

....and finally;-    Austrian Cuirassiers at rest 3. This is "old school shiny" and bloody lovely.
Elite Miniatures painted by Tony Laughton, floristry by Chris. 

A poor shot but useful for gauging position. The ongoing cavalry engagements are, well ongoing; the Austrian centre has driven off the French line battalions on the heights and run down the battery, even some Guard have been pushed back. Way over by the river crossing the French are facing heavy cannon and defensive fire; over the river the heavy cavalry are largely driven back by the monstrous Austrian line battalions.    

Austrian gunners pour close range fire into approaching French infantry - FIRE!!!!

"One last charge mon braves!"
French cavalry general leading from the front.

"The pen is mightier than the sword."
French attacks over the river are halted, the Austrians are up on the heights with French falling back, the Guard are still strong, the cavalry are still in each others clutches. The Austrians are now weak from prolonged exposure to intense cannon fire and combat - they can't realistically expect to continue an attacking battle.

Relative positions when we finally called it.
The battle of Spinchetti halted Nordmann's movement south although his army remains largely intact and the French Guard units are needed in other theatres so will not be available in future battle.

I think there's more to this little story, I'll keep you posted of developments.
All is quiet again in Spinchetti now that the fighting has moved away. 
There we leave it, hope you enjoyed the Battle of Spinchetti and feel happy to comment.

This was a good solid wargame, nothing dramatic happened! This report is pretty prose lite but there are more close up photos than normal, especially of Rich and Chris's new toys.

The scenario was successful as it gave the situation a narrative which is vital to our enjoyment of the hobby, gotta have a context or what's the point?

Be good out there, JJ